Parish leaders call on medical professionals to get ahead of possible third COVID-19 wave

Guillory asked for assurances, offered rec centers; Cedars supported keeping economy open
LCG presser with Tina Stefanski 11-10-2020.JPG
Posted at 8:00 PM, Nov 13, 2020

Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory this week called on medical professionals to do more when it comes to COVID-19 in order to avoid economic restrictions, The Daily Advertiser reports.

In a conference call this week, parish leaders and officials from Region 4, along with members of the medical community, discussed the current situation in Acadiana. According to the Advertiser, Dr. Tina Stefanski warned that the region is seeing a growth similar to that seen this past summer, which she said is due to "risky behavior and fatigue over COVID-19 mitigation measures."

Also on the call was St. Martin Parish President Chester Cedars, who agreed that residents have stopped following safety protocols. He suggested that Stefanski and others in the medical community issue another call to citizens to remain vigilant, and Stefanski said that was in the works.

Cedars said there is "just a lot of relaxation of people adhering to the mitigation measures of wearing the masks, social distancing." He said he believes the social media campaign created over the summer was "very effective [in] educating the public," so he suggested that "as a group, maybe we need to revisit the need to have that kind of campaign to re-educate the public."

Guillory, however, took a stronger approach, saying he "needed assurances that the medical community is changing its behavior" to prepare for a possible third wave of cases this fall. According to The Advertiser, Guillory said, "It's gonna come to a point where going to tell us to shut our economy down."

"That's the trend...and that can't be the answer," he continued. "So I'm going to plant the seed. What are the medical professionals doing to mitigate this surge? Are you adding capacity?"

Guillory also offered the use of the city's recreation centers if hospitals were to reach capacity.

"If it's capacity, you can have one or two to serve the region. You can have three or four if you want. We need some really, really strong assurances from the medical community that you guys have changed your behavior and have done something to help mitigate this, because we can't shut our economy down," Guillory said.

Stefanski countered that while healthcare providers have added space for increased capacity, staffing remains an issue. She said the solution lies in the community.

"Nobody wants to shut the economy down," she said. "But, you know, we can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. We can wear a mask and not be huddled together at a bar, listening to a band with 200 of our closest friends."

Cedars said he believes that it's safe and possible to keep the economy open while continuing or even increasing mitigation efforts.

"My position has always been we can open up our economy at the same time, we can have these safety measures in place," he explained. "They're not inconsistent or incongruent, we can do both at the same time."

KATC has reached out to Mayor-President Guillory's office for comment, but we have not yet heard back.

Read more from The Daily Advertiser here.

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